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Show no excuses, keep schools open: UNICEF

  • Diplomatic Correspondent
  • 29 January, 2022 12:00 AM
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Show no excuses, keep schools open: UNICEF

As the Omicron variant of coronavirus continues to spread all over the world, UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore has urged governments to do everything in their power to keep it from further disrupting children’s education.

To avert a learning catastrophe and put children back on the learning track, UNICEF has put forward several recommendations, including keeping schools open.

“An estimated 616 million children are currently affected by full or partial school closures and they know that mitigation measures help keep schools open,” the chief of the UN children agency said in a statement on Friday.

“We also know that investments in digital connectivity can help us make sure that no child is left behind. We need bold action to enable every child to return to school. This includes providing comprehensive support with a particular focus on marginalised children in each community, such as catch-up classes, mental health and nutrition support, protection and other key services,” she said.

“Vaccinate teachers and school staff immediately. Teachers and school personnel should be fully supported and prioritised to receive COVID-19 vaccines, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations are vaccinated,” Fore said in the statement.

“UNICEF supports the vaccination of children once vaccines are available to them and once priority groups are fully protected. Do not make vaccination a pre-requisite for in-person schooling. Making access to in-person schooling contingent on COVID-19 vaccination risks denying children access to education and increasing inequalities,” reads the statement.

Consistent with WHO recommendations, it said UNICEF recommends keeping schools open and ensuring that countries’ COVID-19 control strategies facilitate children’s participation in education and other aspects of social life, even without vaccinating children and adolescents.

“In crisis conditions there are always difficult decisions that force difficult trade-offs, and we recognize the unprecedented challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic is creating for school systems worldwide. But the stakes are too high. We must collectively do everything we can to keep children in school,” the UNICEF

executive director said.